At the moment there are a lot of choices being offered to all students. Spend a year abroad. This is such a great opportunitythat you can’t miss it, just contact your administrator and they should have all the details. The only thing you need to worry about is: do you carry on studying, or teach? We chat to two students, who are currently on their year abroad, on why they chose to either study or teach.
Study Study Study!
Bonjour from Lyon! At the moment I am on my year abroad in France as part of my French, German and Spanish degree from Bangor University. I have been living in France for three months now and since being here, I have been studying at the Lyon University Jean Moulin 3 as part of my language course.
I chose to study at a university instead of working or becoming a teaching assistant because I thought it would be the easiest way of making new friends and meeting people my age. For me this has been a fantastic opportunity and I have met so many people, not only from France but of all nationalities. Meeting these people has allowed me to immerse myself in the French culture and practice my speaking skills. Plus I have discovered that it is so much easier to speak a language over a drink with friends in a casual conversation compared to a formal classroom situation.
Being at university in a different country has been a completely unforgettable experience…you learn a whole new meaning of the phrase ‘patience is a virtue’! Firstly, when it comes to French universities, I’ll let you in on a little-known secret…you can basically expect them to be fairly disorganised and chaotic (ok, so it is not that much of a secret). No wonder the French have the whole blasé attitude! But after you get over the initial shock you begin to realise that this is the norm in France and their way of life is fairly relaxed and casual. My first experience of this was students still turning up to an hour and a half long lecture an hour into it! Can you imagine us trying that out in Bangor?
In order to get the best out of this experience of living abroad I have learnt to try so many new things and not be afraid of change. A year abroad gives you the opportunity to do and try things that you would never have even dreamt of doing before. Since being here I have had lots of new experiences for example I went ice skating for the first time, learnt to salsa dance, tried frogs legs, took a boat ride on Lake Geneva and experienced my first Canadian Thanksgiving!
Other than walking round wearing my beret and with a baguette in hand (just kidding!), there have been lots of things for me to do here and get involved with. On your year abroad most exchange universities have an Erasmus group where they organise meetings for foreign students, these can range from international picnics to themed nights out. They can even help you find somewhere to live by putting you in contact with people who have somewhere to rent or they can help you make friends.
The most important thing that I will take away from my year abroad is the independence that I have developed since being here. You really do learn to fend for yourself and even though you have a great support system from Bangor, at the end of it you feel a sense of achievement of what you have managed to do out in the world all by yourself!
I would recommend a year abroad to anyone, so if you ever get the opportunity you should grab it with both hands! A useful tip for anyone thinking about going abroad is to learn to expect the unexpected. Don’t worry, this does not necessarily mean bad things; some of the best times can come out of unforeseen situations! Another useful tip is to make sure you are organised as this can make your time run a lot more smoothly, leaving plenty of time for lots of fun!
Teach Teach Teach!
Hello, my name is Guy and I am currently in Austria on my year abroad. I’m studying German and Physical Education at Bangor and I’m in my 3rd year and I’m working as an English Language Assistant in two different schools. There were several options for what to do on my year abroad but the British Council Teaching Assistant role caught my eye. I didn’t want to go to university and study something that I had no interest in so I decided to apply for the assistantship programme.
The application process was fairly straight forward, I just had to fill in an application form which was about two pages long, say why I wanted to do this and what experience I have had working with children (experience isn’t a necessity but it helps). I applied for this programme because I wanted to do something new, I wanted a challenge and I wanted to meet new people and also I have an interest in teaching and getting the best out of the pupils.
On the application form you had to say whether you wanted to go to Austria or Germany. I chose Austria as I have been here before and I believe that it is a beautiful country with so much to offer. The people are very laid back, friendly, helpful and they always take an interest in what you are doing. If you’re into skiing then this is the place to be – you’re spoilt for choice, if not then there’s lots of mountain biking, hiking, and lots of historic and beautiful towns and villages that still seem to be in a time warp.
So you’re probably thinking what do I actually do as an English Language Assistant? Well, I teach a maximum of 13 hours a week (it’s normally less) and the rest of the time I have free to do whatever I want to do.
Normally the teacher will say to prepare a topic and you’ve got to present it and teach the students about the topic. It’s not boring grammar or vocabulary. So far I’ve done lessons on the Loch Ness Monster, English media, controversial advertising, abortion, social problems in England and sports.
I teach in two all-girls schools and the pupils are really friendly and are immaculately behaved; they are always keen to learn and improve their English. There is always an English teacher in the classroom with you so if there were any problems then they would sort it out.
I’m really enjoying it and you are not an actual teacher – you have no responsibilities and the students invite you to their leavers ball/prom and concerts so you are kind of in between a student and a teacher.
As you are a native speaker of English they worship you too, they always come up to you, say hello to you outside of the classroom and every morning it’s fun and enjoyable going to school.
If you are interested in doing the assistantship then I would definitely recommend it, the first 2/3 weeks can be tough trying to figure everyone out and getting into a routine but stick with it and you’ll be rewarded.
I’ve learnt so much since being here, my language has improved (both English and German), I’ve met some great people, been to some great parties, and hopefully will be skiing lots too!
If you’re outgoing, confident within yourself and want a fun and action packed but challenging year this is definitely the programme for you – oh I forgot to say that you get paid for doing this too which is a massive help! The pay is more than enough to live on which is great.
If you are thinking about doing this programme then dive in and do it. It’ll be a great experience for you and it’ll look great on your CV as it shows you can go away, take the initiative, adapt to life in a new country and learn new things too.